Lynn Nottage’s play Intimate Apparel is getting the opera treatment, bowing in an Off-Broadway Lincoln Center Theater production February 27, 2020, with an official opening March 23.
As previously reported, the opera was developed by Lincoln Center Theater and the Metropolitan Opera as part of the Met/LCT New Works Program.
Two-time Pulitzer Prize winner and Tony nominee Nottage adapted the libretto from her own play, teaming up with composer Ricky Ian Gordon. Gordon recently penned The House Without a Christmas Tree for the Houston Grand Opera as well as The Grapes of Wrath for the Opera Theatre of St. Louis. Tony Award–winning director Bartlett Sher will helm the production at the Mitzi E. Newhouse Theater.
The work centers on Esther, a single African-American woman who dreams of love, but spends her days sewing ladies’ undergarments. She begins writing to a mysterious suitor, who is working on the Panama Canal, and comes to realize her own worth, resilience, and strength. The opera will be set in 1905 New York City and, therefore, feature styles like ragtime, cakewalk, and blues.
The New Works Program has produced such operas as Nico Muhly’s Two Boys (with a libretto by Craig Lucas), the upcoming Eurydice by Matthew Aucoin and Sarah Ruhl, and Grounded by Jeanine Tesori and George Brant. Current collaborators in the program include David T. Little and Royce Vavrek, as well as Joshua Schmidt and Dick Scanlan (Renascence, Thoroughly Modern Millie).
As a play, Intimate Apparel first premiered in 2004 and won Best Play from the New York Drama Critics Circle and Best Off-Broadway Play from the Outer Critics Circle. Prior to the opera's bow at LCT’s Off-Broadway space, The Rolling Stone, a new play by Chris Urch, begins performances June 20.